is the second largest of the Balearic Islands
, located to the northeast of Mallorca
and is the least overrun and most tranquil of the Balearics. With a population of around 92,000, the island is dominated by tourists, particularly during the summer tourist season of May - October. Due to its unspoilt beauty, it allows the more adventurous the opportunity to discover new charms and experiences. Despite its smaller size among other Spanish islands, being just around 30 miles long and around 10 miles wide, the number of beaches that Menorca has equals the number of beaches that can be found in Mallorca and Ibiza combined.
The island is split into eight administrative divisions: Maó, Es Castell, Sant Lluis, Alaior, Es Mercadal, Es Migjorn Gran, Ferreries and Ciutadella. Each division is responsible for the beaches and resorts within it.
The harbour at Maó
, the island capital, is the second largest natural deep water port in the world - the largest being Pearl Harbour. The whole island is a European Biological Reserve and Unesco Biosphere Reserve aiming to preserve environmental areas. More than a 75% of the territory is protected. You can watch some of the last turtles of the Mediterranean, birds and protected species.
The main tourist area is along the south coast and includes the resorts of Santo Tomas, Son Bou, Cala en Porter, Binibeca, Punta Prima and S'Algar. Menorca is a relatively quiet island, which means more wholesome, family fun holidays. If you prefer a more vibrant night scene, head to nearby Ibiza or Mallorca for a bustling city atmosphere.
An identifying sign of Menorca is its fascination with horses. All things centre around horses and the people love them. Menorca has its own race of black horses. In all the festivities the horses and their "caixers" (riders) are the centrepieces. The "Cami de Cavalls" is a pathway surrounding the island for horse riding and it was used in the past for defense of the coast by horse, literally translating to horse path
If you do take time to explore the interior you will discover a wealth of interesting and historic landmarks from El Toro (the highest point on the island) to the most significant prehistoric sites at Trepucó and Torre d’en Galmés.
To this day no one is certain of the significance of these prehistoric monuments in the form of Taules, T-shaped stone formations thought to be spiritual sanctuaries; Talayots which are stone towers that local people believe were once used as look-out points. There is little evidence to support these theories about Menorca’s prehistoric past nor the original function of these breathtaking creations . Taules are named after the Menorquí word for table. (Menorquí is the local dialect of Catalan which is widely spoken on the Island). Menorca is by far the richest place in Europe for sites of prehistoric settlements, mostly dating from the Talaiotic Period, which was the period of civilisation between 2000 and 1000 BC. The term Talayot is believed to originate from the Arabic atalaya meaning “watch tower”.
Since prehistoric times, the Island has been controlled by the Romans, Moors, Catalans, Spanish, French and English. All these nations have left their mark on the Island and monuments to visit from Sanisera, the archaeological site close the port of Sanitja on the north coast of the island to the ruins of the 5th century Bascilica on the beach at Son Bou.
During the 18th century, Menorca was a bone of contention among the British, French and Spanish powers. This was due to the Port of Maó, the finest natural harbour in the Mediterranean, and one of the best in the world, which could protect the largest fleets of the time in their entirety. The Utrecht Treaty, signed in 1713, gave place to the first British presence on Menorca, which lasted until 1755. The first British Governor was John Campbell (Argyll) nominated by the Queen Anne. Richard Kane, from County Antrim in Ireland, the second British Governor, is still fondly remembered for his effective support of agriculture on the island; he introduced the cultivation of the apple, promoted cattle breeding and built roads and reservoirs which are still in use today. The Scottish Col.Patrick Mackellar (Argyll) was the chief engineer of Menorca and responsible for the main constructions of the British legacy. The main contribution of Mackellar was the design and construction of Georgestown (Es Castell) near to Sant Felip fortress at the entry of Mahon harbour.
There were two later periods of British presence on Menorca, from 1763 till 1781 and 1798 to 1808. The British left more than their earthworks and ramparts behind. Things as varied as the growth of Maó, which enthusiastically accepted the opportunities for trade and the abolition of the Inquisition, the traditional woodworking and boat building techniques and designs and Menorca's most popular drink, gin.
The locals speak a form of Catalan language called "Menorquí", which is itself a sub-dialect of the regional "Balear". It is a language not easily understood by Spanish speakers, but most inhabitants also speak Spanish. Most also speak English to a reasonable standard, especially in the tourist areas and resorts.
There are regular flights available to Menorca Airport (sometimes known as Mahon Airport) from mainland Spain
and the sister islands of Ibiza
and their subsidiary Air Nostrum
. Flights from Spain are also available from Barcelona
. If travelling from the UK
, various airlines offer regular scheduled services during the summer tourist season. Airlines Jet2
, TUI Airways
, and EasyJet
all fly from various regional and main UK airports direct to Menorca. British Airways offer services from London Heathrow
To get to your resort, Menorca's airport is served by buses to Maó
(€1.50, 15 min) every half hour from around 06:00 to 22:00 and then hourly to midnight. The bus stops at the bus station, the Estacio Maritima and a couple of other intermediate points. Buses are then available to various resorts and towns across the island from the bus station.
Taxis are available directly in front of the airport terminal and there is a range of car hire options to get to your resort. There are also various services (bookable online) that allow direct coach transfers to resorts across the island.
address: Moll De Ponent, 0 S N, 07701 Mahón
Regular ferries from both mainland Spain and Majorca are also available to Maó
from Palma de Mallorca
, and Barcelona
. Modest-sized cruise ships occasionally visit. They use Maó
's deep harbour, which offers highly scenic views of homes, hotels/resorts and historic structures and fortifications.
address: Via Mestre Vives 07769 Ciutadella de Menorca
Regular car ferries from Alcudia
are also available to Ciutadella
. Some cruise ships also do visit Ciutadella, but most use the port of Mahon.
Taxis are a popular form of transport for those not looking to move as much. They can be somewhat expensive if using them a lot, so be careful! A taxi can be booked using Radio Taxis, which is an English speaking service. Call +34 971 367 111 and state your current location and destination.
There are numerous agents and companies, both international and local, specialising in car hire in Menorca - both at the airport and in resorts - although it may be important to organise it from home before you arrive to avoid disappointment during peak periods. Scooter hire is also possible at some of these agencies. Car Hire companies include the International Firms, that usually cost a little more but have dedicated desks and a separate pickup facility directly at the airport, which means there's no shuttle bus and you can just drive away. Companies based at the airport are: Hertz
, and Enterprise
. There are other firms dedicated to Menorca, which will often be cheaper than the main firms, but have no dedicated desk at the airport and require a shuttle bus to their offsite destinations.
A word of warning on Car Hire: If possible, do not get a ' full to empty
' fuel policy; there is no way that you will use a full tank of fuel on the tiny island of Menorca. Instead, opt for a 'full to full
' policy wherever possible. It does mean you'll have to use a petrol station before your return, but you'll save the over-the-top cost of a full tank of fuel from the rental agency.
The roads on Menorca are very simple: there is one main road, the ME-1. It connects Ciutadella and Mahon and every other major road on the island branches off it.
If you're planning to travel around by bus, then there are three main public bus companies in Menorca: TMSA
, and Autos Fornells
Transportes Menorca (TMSA), who run buses throughout the island, including to Ciutadella, but operate mainly around the east coast (including Maó and the Airport), as well as to many of the southern resorts. Their buses leave from the Bus Station in Maó and from Placa de Menorca in Ciutadella.
Torres run buses from Ciutadella to locations and resorts on the west coast. Their buses leave from the main plaza (Placa des Pins) in Ciutadella.
Autos Fornells run buses from the major towns to the northern resorts, including Fornells.
The main bus route which serves Maó, Alaior, Es Mercadal, Ferreries and Ciutadella runs along the centre of the island. Most buses leave hourly and are very inexpensive, at around €4 to €5 to travel between Ciutadella and Maó.
You can always find the latest timetables for every route on each operators' website.
The Cami de Cavalls footpath encompasses the entire island, and is a popular walking route along the coastline. It is a fully signposted long distance Spanish walking route around the edge of the island, and is a part of Spain's network of paths, the Gran Recorrido (GR) Network. If you're planning to visit a nearby beach or resort, it's often quicker to use the Cami de Cavalls due to the island's road structure; you can walk directly to your destination instead of travelling all the way inland only to head back down to the coast again.
The highest point on the island, near Es Mercadal. Visit for a fantastic panoramic view of the island. There's also a monastery, cafe and shop at the summit. The highest point is 342 m (1,122 ft) tall.
Xoriguer Gin Distillery
phone: +34 971 36 21 97
Menorca's very own Xoriguer Gin Distillery, constructed during the 18th century, is on the Moll de Ponent dockside. Menorcan gin is distinctively aromatic and very tasty, and generally offered only there and by select European retailers elsewhere. You can sample and purchase it on-site, as well as the many other types of liquor that the Xoriguer Distillery manufactures.
Museu de Menorca
phone: +34 971 35 09 55
address: Pla des Monestir, 07701 Maó
This 15th-century former Franciscan monastery contains the earliest history of the island, the Roman and Byzantine eras and Muslim Menorca and includes paintings from more recent times times.
phone: +34 971 48 15 78
address: Camí Vell, km. 1, 07769 Ciutadella de Menorca
A unique chance to visit and explore a Sandstone quarry near Ciutadella
. A walk around encompasses some wonderful gardens, sandstone maze, and brilliant views of the quarry and the surrounding greenland. There's great insights into the early tools used in quarrying and a chance to buy a small, engraved piece of sandstone from the quarry to take home with you. Well recommended.
Naveta des Tudons
address: Carretera Mahón – Ciudadela, Km. 40, 07760 Ciutadella de Menorca
An ancient megalithic chamber tomb and the final resting place for 100 skeletons buried up to 750 BC. The exterior is open to visits and is brilliant to see and remark how our ancestors lived. Recommended on the journey either to or from Ciutadella, as it is just outside on the Main Road.
Placa Alfons III
address: Plaça D' Alfons III Conqueridor 07760 Ciutadella de Menorca
This plaza is lined with noteworthy restaurants and cafés that are worth more than a passing glance. Check out the aged windmill, which now serves as headquarters for the town's tourist information office.
La Mola Fortress
phone: +34 971364040
address: c/La Mola s/n
A magnificent Spanish fortress set over Maó harbour, a fine example of mid-19th-century Spanish military architecture.
Menorca has its share of beautiful coastline that deserves recognition. Non-resort
Menorcan beaches are generally not crowded, so finding a nice relaxing spot of your own is not hard to achieve, provided you have access to a car or scooter.
address: Carrer Pas des Tamarell, 11, 07701 Es Grau
A great, long beach with shallow water ideal for families that is regarded by many as the closest decent beach to the capital, Mahon. Very close to the nearby nature reserve that has some great walks. Connected to Mahon by local bus.
Punta Prima Beach
address: Carrer Bellavista, 11-13, 07713 Punta Prima
A relatively small beach with some great facilities in Punta Prima, another decent beach close to the Capital. Part of a busy family resort, there are lots of bars and cafes on the seafront and a large car park just next to the beach. There's lots of sunbed hire and pedalo hire available here too. Access can also be by local bus from Mahon.
Cala Macarella & Cala Macarelleta
address: parking available on Camí de Macarella
Macarella is relatively easily accessible and is undoubtedly one of the best beaches on Menorca, with crystal clear blue waters, a brilliant natural cove and a small cafe/bar to keep you topped up. Macarelleta involves a small walk over the clifftop but is even better than Macarella, being quieter, smaller and less noisy. Both are worth a visit. Arrive early to get a spot - these beaches fill up fast, especially Macarella!
Cala en Turqueta
address: Marjal Vella, 07769 Ciutadella de Menorca
A brilliant beach with great soft sand and the same turquoise water (where it gets its name from!) as Macarella and Macarelleta. Split in two by some rocks, there are often sailing boats floating in the shore. Spaces fill up fast, so arrive early. There is a small snack bar and toilets.
address: Son Ametller
07740 Es Mercadal
Pregonda is a medium sized beach on the north side of Menorca with golden fine sand. It has clear, blue, inviting water, and is unparalleled on Menorca, with its island in the middle of the bay that is definitely worth a climb, and the golden rocky sea beds behind the island. There is a smaller, quieter sister beach to the east of Pregonda called Pregondó.
Cala en Porter
address: Platja de Cala en Porter, 07730 Cala en Porter
Cala en Porter is possibly one of the best beaches for families, with a playground, great sand and shallow water. The beach itself is stunning too, being at the end of a great bay surrounded by cliffs, with pedalo hire and sunbed hire. Gets busy but it's a wide beach, so there's plenty of space for everyone. Popular with families.
address: Carretera de Son Bou
The longest beach on Menorca means there's plenty of space for everyone if you don't mind walking a few minutes from the crowd. Pale sand and loads of room make this beach great for kids: Sunbeds and pedalos are available at the resort end of the beach. Brilliant for families.
address: Urbanizacion Santo Tomas, 07749 Menorca.
Santo Tomas has three very long beaches; the first, Playa de Santo Tomas, is a long winding strip of sand near the resorts' hotels, and so is popular with families. San Adeodato, west from Playa de Santo Tomas, is thinner and strewn with pebbles with a shallow shore, ideal for sun-worshippers and those looking to spend a few hours there. The third, Binigaus, is further west still, and is only accessible by a long path from the west of Santo Tomas. As a result, it is not suitable for those with young children and so is a brilliant spacious beach for adults looking to unwind away from the noise.
Glass Bottomed Catamaran Cruises
address: Carrer Moll de Llevant, 12, 07701 Maó
Numerous operators offer glass-bottomed cruises around the harbour and port of Mao, offering a chance to view the underwater, marine life and learn about some of Mahon's history in the process. They are always fun and very recommendable.
Son Bou Scuba
phone: +34 696 628 265
address: Centro Comercial San Jaime s/n
Professional PADI staff available to take you to visit underwater caves and caverns, wrecks and the protected Marine Reserve on the North Coast. Novices and experienced divers alike are welcome.
, the traditional Menorcan sandal, is available in shops and markets throughout the island. They are now a fashion icon and can be found across the world, but were originally designed as a shoe for farmers. Only the original Avarca manufacturers are allowed to sell shoes with the label "Avarca de Menorca". This is only given by the local Balearic Government as a guarantee that the avarcas accomplish minimum quality standards and that they have been really manufactured on the island.
Companies that manufacture Avarca de Menorca
MIBO Cosits, S.L.
phone: +34 971 37 05 62
address: Polígono Industrial, Nave, B-6, 07749 Es Migjorn Gran
A small store that sells products directly from the factory behind. Sells official avarcas de Menorca, in a range of adults and childrens' sizes and colours
phone: +34 971 37 30 70
address: Carrer dels Trencadors, 25, 07750 Ferreries,
Another direct factory shop selling a huge range of shoes for adults and children. They are available at a slight discount here than in other shops.
phone: +34 971 15 50 77
address: Poligono Industrial de Ferreries
See traditional Menorcan footwear being made at the Industrias Artesanas factory shop. Known locally as Abarcas or Avarcas, they once were the footwear of choice for farmers and land workers, but now a fashion icon and exported all around the world.
Abarcas de Menorca
address: Es Cós de Gràcia, 58
See traditional Menorcan footwear being made at the Industrias Artesanas factory shop. Known locally as Abarcas or Avarcas, they once were the footwear of choice for farmers and land workers, but now a fashion icon and exported all around the world.
Menorca is packed with good restaurants whose menus especially feature fish and seafood. Menorca also has a great variety of bars and cafes, with some open for 24 hours a day.
The Windmill Restaurant
phone: +34 971 37 52 75
address: Carrer Major, 53, 07740 Es Mercadal
The restaurant inside the 300-year-old "molino" has an authentic, homely atmosphere. Authentic Menorcan cuisine.
phone: +34 971 37 64 42
address: Calle de las Escuelas, 31, 07740 Fornells
One of the finest restaurants in Menorca, what it lacks in interior design, it makes up for in tasty home cooking. Be sure to try the shellfish soup 'Caldereta'.
phone: +34 971 375 459
address: Pont de Na Macarrana, s/n, 07740 Es Mercadal
Primarily Mediterranean cuisine and attracting a stylish a sophisticated clientele, Ca n'olga is warm and intimate. It offers dining on a pretty outdoor patio or at a handful of indoor tables and an eclectic menu featuring local produce.
phone: +34 871 20 08 93
address: Carretera de Sant Felip, 41, 07720 Es Castell
Son Granot offers an extraordinary traditional Menorcan cuisine and fine Spanish and French wines. Enjoy a romantic fine dinner in the terrace with nice views to the Mediterranean and Maó. All the vegetables are grown ecologically in Son Granot's very own kitchen garden.
phone: +34 971 36 18 22
address: Plaça Reial, 7, 07702 Maó
Sit down on a seat on the terrace while sipping on a coffee and pore over a newspaper at this recommended breakfast spot.
On Menorca there were a great many junipers, (there still are), and in the harbour lay the British fleet. The twain met and Ginet was the result, a spirit far removed from the Spanish and Mediterranean traditions and with notable difference from the English Gin.
It is a kind of cross between London Gin and the Mediterranean spirit, invented in Menorca. It was very successful and was drunk throughout the British Fleet and it surprised more than one distinguished visitor to declare "the best of the sprits found in Europe today" was historian Vargas Ponce's opinion on visiting Menorca in 1781.
The major difference between London Gin and Menorcan Ginet, is that Menorcan ginet is based on a spirit distilled from the grape, as is usual in the Mediterranean, and not on a cereal based spirit. The juniper now comes from the mainland, but the distilling continues to be done in old copper stills. The spirit rests in oak barrels cured in gin so that the end product does not take the colour of the wood.
Gin is found all over Menorca, drunk neat or in a mix. One such mix, named Pomada, is created by adding bitter lemon. It's the drink of choice during the many fiestas which take place throughout the summer on the island.
You can find information about how to visit the distillery shop in the 'See'
Nightlife in Menorca is low key compared to nearby Mallorca or Ibiza. For a drink with a waterside view, head to the waterfront which is where the majority of bars are situated.
phone: +34 622 56 73 19
address: Sa Sinia Art Hub, Cl St Josep 49, Es Castell, 07720
Pleasant spot of a drink and some music. Local DJs spin anything from 1980s classics to hip hop.
phone: +34 971 36 85 20
address: Moll de Ponent, 07701 Mahón, Balearic Islands, Spain
Jazz music echos off the warm stone interior which is open until the wee hours. Great cocktail list.
address: Carrer de San Fernando, 5, 07702 Maó, Illes Balears, Spain
Indulge in a great selection of wines and accompany it with a selection of cheese or meat platters from the bar. The interior features timber and marble tables and compliments the soft music that plays.
phone: +34 971 35 21 07
address: Plaza Espanya, 2, 07701 Maó-Mahón
A popular music haunt for locals which impresses with its cave-like interior carved out of the walls above the harbor.
Cova d'en Xoroi
phone: +34 971 37 72 36
address: Carrer de Sa Cova nº 2 07730
Cala en Porter, Alaior
Constructed out of a cave dug into the cliff stone and peering over it. The atmosphere within the cave is unique and must be seen to be believed. One of the few nightclubs in Menorca, it is open until the early hours of the morning. Watching the sun set over the sea from the terrace is simply breathtaking.
phone: +34 971 36 49 62
address: Carrer Moll de Llevant, 291, 07701 Maó
Nice bar and terrace next to the Casino Maritim of Maó
. At night is transformed into a lounge bar were people can have cocktails, long drinks and dance.
address: Passeig Maritimo, S'Algar
Nice beach bar in S'Algar Resort open till 02:00 everyday. Good place to meet locals and have a beer on the garden terrace.
Meliá Cala Galdana
phone: +34 971 154 545
address: Av. de sa Punta, s/n, 07750 Cala Galdana
Excellent quality hotel. Rooms bright and modern with most rooms having a balcony looking out to sea (due to being built into cliff). Extremely high quality of food and drink and staff very welcoming. Over 300 rooms. Air conditioning in all rooms. 3 restaurants and a bar on site as well as 2 pools, one normal and one child.
phone: +32 971 364 751
address: Carrer de la Infanta, Mahon
Rooms are bright and clean and the hotel staff are attentive.
Hostal-Residencia La Isla
phone: +34 971 64 92
address: Carrer de Santa Catalina, Mahon
This large hotel offers spacious rooms for good value. While the decor is unimaginative, the rooms are clean and the staff are pleasant.
Hotel Mirador des Port
phone: +34 971 360 016
address: Carrer de Dalt Vilanova, Mahon
Showcasing great views of the port from its room, this hotel also has its own pool, and fitness area complete with jacuzzis. Some brilliant food too.
Hotel Es Mercadal
phone: +34 971 15 44 39
address: Carrer Nou 49, 07740 Es Mercadal
Small hotel in the centre of Menorca. 4 double rooms 2 junior suites. Built in a typical Menorcan house that was totally renovated in 2007. No A/C.
address: Mirada del Toro, 81 - Es Mercadal
Full service modern hotel in the centre of Menorca with a terrace-garden, jacuzzi, sauna, heated swimming pool with a retractable roof, individually-controlled A/C, business centre, restaurant serving 3 meals daily and large bar where locals congregate.
Hotel San Luis
phone: +34 971 150 750
address: Arcada Comercial Hotel San Luis
Hotel in S'Algar Resort with 228 rooms available, 3 swimming pools, a lobby bar, and 2 restaurants.
Son Bou Gardens
address: Son Bou
The 'Son Bou Gardens' are mature and well established holiday apartments in the Son Bou area, a few minutes from the nudist beach.
Vista Picas Apartmentos
address: Cala N Forcat
Family hotel in Cala N Forcat on the west side of the island, 5 minute car journey from Ciutadella, 30-minute walk. Swimming pool is spacious, staff always incredibly friendly. Rated as 3 stars but truly a 5-star experience. Supermarket just over the road, local nightlife 2 minutes away.
Playa Calan Porter
address: Calle Llebeig 12
Lovely two-bedroom apartment with private balcony that overlooks beautifully landscaped gardens and a large communal pool with separate child’s pool. The beach is a 10-minute stroll and the town centre is a few minutes walk.
Hotel 55 Santo Tomas
phone: +34 971 21 73 44
address: Parcela ZH11, Santo Tomàs, 07749 Es Migjorn Gran , Menorca,
A brilliant new hotel in one of Menorca's best resorts: unique 'swimup suites' with their own private pools complement rooms with Jacuzzis and excellent views of the Santo Tomas beach.